WBALTV – PITTSBURGH — A Pennsylvania jury on Tuesday found a woman from Pittsburgh guilty of involuntary manslaughter and endangering the welfare of her baby, who died after drinking fentanyl that was in the child’s sippy cup.
Jhenea Pratt, 23, was found not guilty of first-degree homicide and third-degree homicide, which were possible alternative guilty verdicts on the general homicide charge.
Pratt showed no emotion in the wake of the verdict. Her court-appointed attorney, Brandon Herring, said Pratt has always said she never intentionally killed her daughter, 17-month-old Charlette Napper-Talley.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Diana Page, an assistant district attorney, told jurors that Pratt wanted to get rid of her child so she could smoke marijuana.
Pratt wanted to “sit back, relax and smoke marijuana,” Page told jurors. “That baby was getting in the way of her enjoying her pastime.”
In her closing argument, Page said the death of Pratt’s daughter was done with “specific intent to kill.”
Pratt will be sentenced at a later date, following preparation of a report for the judge. That could come within the next 90 days, though the defense said it would not object if it took longer. Pratt will continue to be held in the county jail as she awaits sentencing.
During the trial, jurors were shown video of Pittsburgh police questioning Pratt about her child’s April 5, 2018 death. Detectives said the cup Charlette drank from had enough fentanyl to “kill two horses.” The drug was also found on her bed and in her system.
At one point on the video, a police detective said to Pratt, “What I’m sure of is that fentanyl was put in the sippy cup and there was liquid mixed into it, and it was given to Charlette and that’s how she died. So I need to know how that got in there.”
“I have no knowledge as to how fentanyl got into my daughter’s sippy cup,” Pratt can be seen responding.
Later, Pratt is seen in the video saying, “I’m just as clueless as you are. So are you implicating that I put fentanyl in my child’s sippy cup?”
The detective answered, “No.”
Minutes later, Pratt asked, “OK, so, am I under arrest?”
When the detective answered, “No,” Pratt asked him, “Are there any more questions?” The detective responded, “I just wondered how it got in there. That’s the big question,” to which Pratt responded, “I don’t know how it got in there. This is news to me like it’s news to you.”